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Discussions have come up a couple of times in the last year or so from friends or colleagues wanting to get into running and not quite being sure where to start.

Maybe you’ve decided you want to increase your fitness. You could have a particular time or distance goal in mind, or some other particular metric you’d like to achieve. Perhaps it’s an alternative to another sport you can’t or don’t want to spend time on at this moment. Or perhaps there’s a particular event you’ve heard of that sounds interesting, and you want to train towards giving that a go. Maybe you’ve been inspired by someone, or a location. Or, as was recently suggested to me, you just want an excuse to get some more gear.

There are heaps of resources online for ‘couch to 5k’ plans, or similar, and various types of group or individual coaching available. I’ve tried to motivate myself for years, with mixed results, but to be honest my biggest motivator is being out on the trails themselves, whether I’m running or walking them. You can throw on a pair of shoes and see how you like running around the block near your house, perhaps start with a brisk warmup walk then running for a streetlight then walking for a streetlight, or run 30 seconds then walk 30 seconds. Or you could do the same on an easy trail nearby, timing 30 second intervals or picking distinct trees and other trail markings to alternate running and walking between. Don’t expect to go from ‘not running’ to ‘able to sprint a 5km in under 30 minutes’ and, if you’re coming from a road running background, keep in mind that trail running will generally be slower no matter how fast you are. Taking it easy at first and allowing your body to get used to what you’re doing will make it easier in the long run. It won’t take long; your body will soon be used to the change in pace and you’ll be able to run further before needing to walk, and run faster.

However you come to trail running, whatever your motivation, it pays to start slow. Running increases the load on the joints more than walking or hiking does, and pushing training too fast can cause injuries; this isn’t something to be scared of, just aware of.

Something that may help with this is including strength training into your weekly routine. Strength training will help keep your muscles strong to support the joints and tendons, reducing the chance of injuries occurring. Fortunately, one advantage of trails is that the uneven surfaces force your body to use more muscles than you would on the road, so you shouldn’t have as many ‘repetitive strain’ injuries that you might be susceptible to while road running, but at the same time you have other things to think about. These include more technical terrain, weather and exposure, and dodging various things such as low branches or livestock. If you are able to invest in it, a good personal trainer can set you up with a plan for all the muscle groups you need to strengthen, and potentially other exercises such as balance and mobility exercises. Alternatively, there are all sorts of resources online, including plenty of videos showing how to correctly do the exercises themselves. Pilates is another option which can compliment running quite well.

Personally, I’m quite goal motivated and I like to find out how far I can push my physical and mental limits. When I moved to an area with minimal hills or hiking trails like we have in New Zealand, running became a new way to physically push myself. I was a bit restricted to roads at the time, which I didn’t find particularly enjoyable when compared to trail running. Fortunately, the trails are a lot more accessible here in New Zealand and returning to them as a runner was easy. I’ve also found from previous experience that I function best as a runner when I include strength and mobility work in my weekly schedule. I’ve collected a couple of injuries over the years I’ve been running, and the strength / mobility training helps keep the muscles strong and limits a recurrence of previous tendon strains.

While it might seem hard to get started initially, once you get going running does become easier fairly quickly. Keep motivated, and see you out on the trails soon!

by Kristina Arthur

The post How To… Get into trail running! appeared first on Bivouac Outdoor Blog.

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There are times where you want to escape the crowds and go on a real adventure, to explore. I know I feel this way often. This is where discovering your next adventure is so vital. It gives you the sense of excitement that you are going to this place that you have found. I know at my first Monday Morning Meeting of the year at work we were encouraged to book our next holiday leave to have time to look forward to. So below I am sharing a few resources that I use and find really helpful for discovering my next adventure.

New Zealand Topographical Maps

New Zealand Topographical Maps are usually where I first start when scouting out a location or an idea for a trip. They take a little practice to get your head around and learn how to really understand but after a bit of practice and reading the legend on the map it won’t take you long to get your head around the basics. Features that I often look for on the map are huts, tracks, waterfalls, lakes and steep cliffs. These natural features can often be incredibly beautiful.

Department of Conservation

DOC has done a really good job of collating a lot of the walks that it manages throughout New Zealand into its own search engine. Although there aren’t always many walks in specific area, it can take a little more digging to find a hidden gem, it’s still a very good starting point.
Department of Conservation also provides free pdf downloads of conservation areas and National Parks where you can find walks that DOC maintains. Print them out and take them with you on your hike as a rough guide to the walk, usually these guides will also contain a map and even an elevation graph.

Books

Books are so underrated. I think we’ve all heard that phrase a lot, but this time I really mean it. I have a small handful of tramping books that contain many different hikes and tracks that I wouldn’t have even considered had I not have investigated them. Usually, they won’t have many, if not any images to accompany them which is where searching online can really help. Some more of the detailed books can often highlight places that are not marked on the map or look of little significance. If this is the case it is the case of following a route which requires a high level of backcountry tramping experience.


Some of the books that I go to on my bookshelf are older books that I have picked up at the Opshop, second hand book store or the Rotary Book Fairs. Check out these sections each time to see what books you can sniff out. Notable books that I often refer to, Classic New Zealand Mountain Bike Rides for Mountain Biking, Sven Barbyn’s Tramping in the South Island series for any more challenging hikes in Canterbury and wider West Coast region.

There a couple of books that I don’t own yet but have been highly recommended. If you are an experienced surfer, the Wave Track New Zealand Surf Guide is known as the Bible for New Zealand surf beaches. If you are into outdoor rock climbing, Rock Deluxe South and Rock Deluxe North are the best books on the market to find your next crag.

Google

Once I have found a location that’s interesting, I’ll search google for more info. Usually, I hope to find a blog post or images from a trip report on the location. These are usually a good starting point if the place that you are going isn’t so remote that is almost unknown to mankind.

Some useful sites that I find helpful are Nina Dickerhof’s Smugmug Feed of photos and Southern Alps Photography. Especially for tramping and mountaineering, the trip photos give another whole dimension for finding photos for places that you are interested in or admiring our beautiful country from your laptop screen.

Google Earth

More often these days I will also look on Google Earth to see the location that I am planning. It brings to life where you are planning to go showing the formation of the area around you. It is the perfect visual aid to accompany a topographical map of the area.

Local City Council

The Christchurch City Council website has copious numbers of walks that you can discover through the maps that they have on their website. This included walking tracks and Mountain biking from all different levels of abilities. The City Council will also ensure that they are kept up to date with track updates from the park rangers. This is one of the best resources that I use for finding walks in the area.

Instagram

Browsing Instagram can be a time killer, but can also find you stumbling across some epic locations. Sometimes people are unwilling to share the exact location, however, with a bit of sniffing around you can find where that photo may have come from. Below I have included several people on Instagram that I follow that inspire me to get out and explore.

@dionandrews @luke__sutton @ron.hp @tfhollister @mattdowdle

Credit to @inspired_by_the_outdoors for helping me out with the photos taken for this post. Be sure to check him out on Instagram.

The post How To Discover Your Next Adventure appeared first on Bivouac Outdoor Blog.

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This weekend is the final race of the Bivouac Outdoor Wild Auckland Trail Series. We’re heading to Muriwai this time, which should be fun. I’ve been to the Muriwai area a few times for training and running events, so I’m semi-familiar with the area. I’ve always enjoyed running up there, so I’m looking forward for an excuse to get back out that way.

This week I’ll be doing the Discovery distance, which we have been told is 13.8km with 198m elevation gain. A bit less vert than the previous runs! Last weekend I gave the Kepler Challenge a go (DNF at Rocky Point (36km), apparently running up and down a ~1400m hill with a cold doesn’t work too well) and my body still hasn’t quite recovered from this.

One of the things I think we all overestimate is how long it can take the body to recover after you’ve done something big – and big is relative. If you’ve put out a lot of effort (and perceived effort, thank you heat and humidity for teaching me about that) then you do need some time to recover from it. I run with a Suunto Ambit watch and it often informs me I need a ridiculous amount of time to recover from races (in my opinion), but I’ve found that often the amount of time the watch tells me is actually pretty close to reality. It’s one of those “go figure” moments I’ve had to learn to accept!

I’ve been taking it easy all this week in the hopes I will recover by Sunday’s race, but I am going into the Muriwai event with absolutely no time-related goals or thoughts of racing, per se. My goal for the race this weekend is just to get out there and walk it, if that’s all I’m feeling up to, and enjoy the amazing weather we are forecasted to have. It’s actually sometimes quite nice to go into an event without putting pressure on about what sort of time you want to achieve. Relaxing, almost!

That aside, logistics-wise this is an easy race to plan for. The drive to Muriwai is pretty easy, and with spare supplies (water, snacks, clothes) it should easily be a comfortable day. By the looks of the map the race crosses the Okiritoto Stream a couple of times, so I’d say spare socks and shoes are definitely going to be on that list. And sunscreen!

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about this race series (and trail running in general) is some of the places you get the opportunities to see. We’ve got to see three regional parks around Auckland that you may or may not have been to prior to this (I had been to one of these), and this weekend will make four. One of these regional parks included areas not actually open to the public yet, as far as I’m aware (Te Rau Puriri). It’s been a great experience all round!

See you out on the trails on Sunday!

Kristina Arthur

Race Motivator for the Bivouac Outdoor Wild Auckland Trail Series

The post Bivouac Outdoor Wild Auckland Trail Series – Pre-Race: Muriwai appeared first on Bivouac Outdoor Blog.

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I’ve found cross training to be extremely beneficial for me for trail running. I’ve found it easy to get into a bit of a ‘cardio trap’, where I just want to go out running, log the distance, and call it a day. But incorporating gym work is something I have to make sure I do to strengthen muscles that can then support me better while running.

I’ve had personal experience with this with longer races. I’ve done three stage races to date. The first one was completed on only cardio training. This in itself was fine, though an existing iliotibial (IT) band strain was felt from about halfway through the race to the end. The second race was completed on mostly weight training (extenuating circumstances made cardio outside difficult, and there’s only so much training I can do on a treadmill before I go nuts); the existing IT band issues were minor. The third race was completed on a training program that started with a combo of gym + running, then ended up solely cardio; while the IT band issues weren’t as apparent as the first race, I did run into some other overuse problems in the second half of the race that may have been avoided with a bit more time in the gym.

Conclusion (for me, at least): weight work helps!

I’ve had different training plans over the years, but in general having an all round program has worked best for me. I focus on strengthening the legs and core, but I also incorporate back and arm work, stretching, and balance exercises. Strengthening the legs means I get less problems from existing tendon issues and hopefully prevent future injuries. The upper body work helps mitigate sitting at a computer all day. Stretching (when warmed up!) helps keep the muscles from getting too tight, and balance exercises help with both preprioception (the sense of where my body is in space – useful on trails) and ankle stability. I also have  a range of exercises I’ve “collected” over the years for specific things I have issues with, for instance ankle strengthening exercises to limit my ankle turning on the trails, or exercises given to me by the physio to limit the return of tendon-related problems.

I’ve been doing a gym challenge alongside the trail series and it’s been a rather intense reboot with regards to the weight sessions. I think it contributed to the hills in the race at Te Rau Puriri feeling significantly… less hard. I’m not sure I’d say easy, but definitely not bad. That, and I’ve successfully been doing box jumps for a few weeks now!

Nutrition-wise, as with everything else, each person is different. I’m pretty lucky in that I don’t have any problems with most food, so I don’t need to worry about lactose, gluten, or any of the big things. It pays to be aware of any food issues you have and keep them in mind close to training sessions or race day, as your stomach will be under even more stress while running. In terms of every-day, a balanced diet is key. In terms of race day, don’t try anything new. Stick to things you have tried in training while running. For all I haven’t had any major food problems that can’t be easily avoided, I did discover once during training that one particular bar I can have while resting doesn’t work at all while running. I did break my “nothing new on race day” rule once last year and discovered a delicious, thick hot chocolate didn’t sit too well with me when I still had to run / walk a bit longer that day. Go figure.

My race diet has been pretty carb and sugar heavy to date, with minimal thought going into what I’m consuming past getting maximum caloric return from easy-to-consume snacks I could grab easily at most shops. I’m currently trying different foods in an effort to make it healthier with a view towards increasing the protein, making healthier carb choices, and eating cleaner. It’s going pretty well so far, slowly but surely.

Kristina Arthur

Race Motivator for the Bivouac Outdoor Wild Auckland trail series

The post Cross Training And Nutrition For The Bivouac Outdoor Wild Auckland Trail Series appeared first on Bivouac Outdoor Blog.

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Last week was the third race in the Bivouac Outdoor Wild Auckland Trail Series, at Te Rau Puriri Regional Park! I hadn’t been there before, so that was exciting in itself. Some googling had shown it to be an as-yet undeveloped park at the top of Muriwai Beach. A bit of a drive, but worth it, especially as the weather totally turned it on again (though fortunately not as hot as Labour Weekend and the previous race at Tawharanui).

After the second race I had decided to be much more careful about hydration and drank a lot more water in the days leading up to the run at Te Rau Puriri. In fact, I was managing about 3L of water a day for the three days leading up to it. I also used this as an opportunity to try another Camelbak accessory for the Circuit Hydration Vest I’ve been using – a quick stow flask! This was so I could take an electrolyte drink with me (I prefer to keep a source of fresh water with me on races as well, just for variety). All up I ended up with 500ml of electrolyte drink in the quick stow flask (kept in a front pocket on the vest), and approximately 1L of water in the hydration bladder. These and a couple of spare water bottles spent the night in the fridge to cool down, which worked particularly well.

Ended up getting to the regional park a little later than planned (one of these days I’ll learn to get petrol the day before!), but still with enough time to do the usual pre-race registration and sorting out of self and stuff. An early start to get there for the expedition race, but I was mostly awake. Our pre—race briefing was marked by a minute’s silence for Armistice day, and then we were down to the beach and off!

We started with about 2km along the beach (largely flat, largely firm-ish sand, lots of water puddles / surface water…) before heading inland along a grassy stretch to the first hill. I recently discovered an ability to do box jumps in cross training and I’m not sure if this helped (already!) or not, but the hill didn’t seem too bad. Either it was a nicer hill, or the legs have gotten stronger… Up and over that, into a valley (where there was hardly any breeze, so that was a bit painful), see the aid station then realise you’re actually no where near passing it (didn’t need anything, it’s just a mental marker on how far we’ve gone really), and then around undulating terrain until… We do actually get to the aid station! Back down a slope and… Deja vu! Back to that first hill. This time it was a bit more painful getting up to the top, with the bonus being the race photographer was hiding up there this time. Managed to run a few steps up the final slope by where he was waiting, but my legs decided to stage a protest at this point.

Took it easy going down the other side of the hill into the valley, which helped. Then it was back to pushing through the second loop to the aid station. This loop was heating up a lot more and the sun was pretty strong – turns out by this stage I’d probably sweated off all my sunscreen again. Kept pushing on, got to the aid station for the second time, then turned off to head back to the finish line. It was all pretty easy from here, in terms of terrain. I just had to make sure I watched my footing so I didn’t faceplant, then it was under some trees and across the finish line!

One thing I was doing more of – micro-goal setting. “I will run to that post then walk”, and “I will walk to that clump of grass then have a rest”. I used that to get up the hill (walk to a certain post before I could “pause to admire the view”) and to decide when to slow down the pace (I’ll run to a certain part of the bottom of the hill then try to power walk the rest). I’ve found that breaking down long races like this helps a lot (to any definition of ‘long’).

I’m absolutely stoked with how I managed in this race. The second race was a major learning experience with regards to dehydration (something I should know about and remember, but I have a tendency towards short termed memory for this apparently, probably because I prefer to run in colder environments), and I can definitely say the lessons learned were appropriately applied in this one. I felt good going into the race, I managed better with the weather and exposure, and I was able to keep up a good pace for the entire morning. My official time for the 20.5km run was 3:15:26, which I’m quite happy about. The thing that gets me is that I ran most of it with Brent Tucker (Kiwi Trail Snail!), and we were running at conversational pace the entire way. To me this means I possibly could have pushed myself harder, but probably would have resulted in a less consistent pace. I’m really happy with the energy / pace management over the course of the run. The food truck at the end was a nice bonus, too; celebratory pulled pork toastie, anyone? I figure I deserved that!

So I’m super happy with this! It’s boosted my confidence after the effort at Tawharanui, and I got to explore another regional park I’d never been to before! Good day all up.

Kristina Arthur

Race Motivator for the Bivouac Outdoor Wild Auckland Trail Series

The post Bivouac Outdoor Wild Auckland Trail Series Race Review – Te Rau Puriri appeared first on Bivouac Outdoor Blog.

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That snuck up on us quick! Or maybe that’s just me, but this Sunday we have our next race. The third in the Bivouac Outdoor Wild Auckland Series, this one is held at Te Rau Puriri regional park. The stats say that 95% of the people signed up to this race haven’t been there before – I’m one of the 95%! To be honest I had no idea where the park was when I first saw the name, so it’s going to be interesting to explore another part of Auckland. I have been rather close to Te Rau Puriri without even realizing it was there; I’ve done the odd training run down Muriwai beach before. Despite the proximity to Muriwai Beach, I don’t think it will have many similarities though. Certainly not flat!

I’m signed up for the Expedition course again, so we’ll see how it goes. We received our pre-race information email earlier this week, and the Expedition course is set to be 20.5km with 622m elevation gain. It’s going to be a little hilly, then. The course also looks pretty exposed with pretty minimal tree cover, and Metservice is suggesting it will be about 20ºC and fairly sunny. Given the humidity recently, I’m guessing that is likely to stick around.

Thinking about this and how the last race went, I’m changing things up a little. I thought I was being proactive about hydration before the last race, but I’m taking better note of it this time and being better hydrated from a few extra days out. I’ll be taking an electrolyte powder I know has worked well for me in the past, rather than just relying on electrolyte capsules (the difference being the capsules are just the electrolytes, and a stronger dosage of those; the powder has some calories / carbohydrates, which I think will help). I’ll have a separate bottle for the electrolytes so I can have plain water as well. I have a tendency to have no appetite when running, so finding the easiest thing possible to consume (or even remember to consume) is important for me. I’m also going to either partly freeze my hydration bladder or put ice in it the morning of the race, as warm water isn’t particularly palatable when you’re already hot and just want a cold drink!

Other than changing up the nutrition a little, the gear isn’t really changing. Race clothes, shoes, socks, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, small pack / vest, water, snacks, camera. Water and snacks for after the race (the food truck sounds intriguing!), change of top and shoes, wet wipes and towel, in case cleaning up is required. Easy!

Overall I’m interested to see how things pan out. Changing up the electrolytes a little should help (based on previous experience with them), and I’ve been doing a fair bit of cross-training recently, which may be advantageous for the hills. I’m hoping the fact I had a good training run in hot and humid weather recently is also a good sign. Overall I’m feeling fairly optimistic.

I’d say the one major challenge going into this is getting there, really. And that’s not very major. Google maps tells me it’s 1 hour 10 minutes to get there from home, so it’s going to be a pretty early start to get there at around 8 – 8:15am. I’ll pack the night before and get up early enough to have a decent breakfast before I leave.

That brings me a topic that was mentioned to me a while ago: sleep (with a side note about stress). To be honest it’s something I’ve tended to neglect, in favour of trying to fit too much in to a day (or just getting distracted by a good book). It is pretty important though, as it’s the time when your body recovers from your training and strengthens you for the next training session or race. I was reminded recently that, while it might not feel like it, all training we do is essentially another stressor on our bodies and we need to allow time for them to recover from this. Related to this, other things going on in our lives can affect our training and sleep for the same reason, as apparently the body can’t tell the difference between physical stress and mental stress – they’re both just “stress”, and we need time to recover from it all. Rest days, adjusting the training load according to what else is going on in our lives, and getting a decent amount of sleep all help with this. For various reasons this past week hasn’t provided a very good example of ideal sleep patterns / amounts, but it’s something I’m trying to work on. And now I know how early I will have to leave on Sunday morning I can make a definite effort to go to sleep early so I’m fully rested for the run!

See you Sunday at Te Rau Puriri!

Kristina Arthur

Race Motivator for Bivouac Outdoor Wild Auckland Trail Series

The post Gear for Bivouac Outdoor Wild Auckland Trail Series – Pre-Race: Te Rau Puriri appeared first on Bivouac Outdoor Blog.

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Story time! Tell us about a time a Leatherman tool saved your bacon or would have saved your bacon and be in to win a Leatherman Wave+ Multi-tool.

Ts and Cs: Competition runs from 9/11/18 – 22/11/18. Entrants must be over 18 years old and a resident of New Zealand. The winner will be chosen on 23/11/18 at the sole discursions of Bivouac Outdoor. No alternatives or substitutions are offered and the product cannot be exchanged for cash.

The post Win A Leatherman Wave+ Multi-tool appeared first on Bivouac Outdoor Blog.

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I’m taking a look at another piece of gear this week, and that’s socks! I feel like socks are pretty underestimated when running, but they’re still important. I was provided with a 2-pack of the inov-8 All Terrain Sock Mid; it’s the first time I’ve used inov-8 socks, so I was interested to see how they’d go.

There are a lot of different sock options out there, in terms of brand, price, material, and style. I’ve tried merino socks, double layer ones, toe socks, and material blends favoured by different brands. When you get the right sock, you don’t think about it very often. When you get the wrong one, you could end up with blisters that slow you down (or stop you!).

Personally, one thing that is a ‘must have’ regardless of brand and material is that the sock can’t be a ‘no-show’ style. I can wear those to work or casually, but I’ve found they end up dropping down too often and then I risk a blister on my ankle from the shoe rubbing. I feel much better in a low crew style sock. Other than that, I haven’t noticed a particular pattern to when I get blisters, based on which socks I’m wearing. The pattern seems more related to what terrain I’ve been running on and if there’s grit in my shoe.

In general I tend to favour Icebreaker and Injinji brands. For shorter runs I haven’t worried about cushioning / thickness too much, but when I’m doing something longer (think multiple stages) I have been known to take a pair of slightly more cushioned socks as a ‘treat’ to make up for the abuse I’m putting my feet through. This is probably more a mental thing than an actual physical treat, but sometimes that’s just what you need!

Back to the inov-8 All terrain Sock Mid. First impressions a few weeks back were that it was a slightly more cushioned sock that felt pretty comfortable / warm. They are asymmetrical fit socks, and while the sock description online doesn’t specify this is because of different support features, they do have a different stitching around the arch of the foot. It also makes race mornings more entertaining as I do have a tendency to put them on without checking which is which, whoops!

The socks have been comfortable to wear during the races so far, to the point that I forget about them. The extra cushioning feels nice around the heels and toes, and there’s a band of what feels like slightly more supportive stitching around the middle of the foot and the arch, which I quite like. They have also worn and washed well so far, especially after the mud at Tapapakanga! These socks will be staying in my regular sock rotation for trail running.

I’ve mentioned blisters in relation to socks and shoes. I’ve had my fair share pop up during races in the past, but fortunately all relatively minor and, while uncomfortable, not race-ending. I have seen others with race-ending blisters and it’s definitely something I hope to avoid. I actually went into my first ultra with very little clue how to tape my feet or any other knowledge of preventing blisters, which was a little ill advised, I think. I got very lucky on that race and quickly tried to pick up different ways to deal with my feet.

I know now, for instance, that I don’t typically get blisters from water (or wet socks / shoes). I did in my last ultra, for the first time ever, but generally my feet are pretty good about a dunking. I am quite susceptible to getting blisters from grit in my shoe, and try to be aware of anything getting into my shoe that can rub. I also know some particular pairs of shoes give me a blister regardless of what I do to try to avoid it, so I tend to avoid those shoes unless there is a particularly compelling reason for me to wear them. Knowing how your feet are going to react means you can prepare properly before your race. And by preparing, I mean tape!

I’ve become a great fan of paper tape since that first ultra. It’s amazing stuff! If I’m doing something long or I suspect I will end up with hot spots (precursor to a blister) I will put paper tape over the area (e.g. the ankle) or around it (e.g. individual toes). I don’t usually put tape on before shorter distance races, but I put some over my ankles before the race at Tawharanui on the off chance hot spots might occur. Usually it stays put pretty well, but this time it didn’t and I had to pause for a moment to remove the tape that went AWOL and apply some new paper tape to my ankles. All good. If I’m doing a longer race I will tape most of the potential problem spots I’ve noticed over the last few years.

I believe the official best method for healing blisters is to leave them to themselves, but I’ve found that if they’re in a place that gets pressure when you walk (particularly if you’re still in a race!) it’s better to deal with them as you go. For me this means clean with an alcohol swab, pop with a sterile needle in a couple of places, apply paper tape, then cut some fabric tape and apply over the top, making sure it is smooth with no raised edges. You may need to get creative with the shape of the fabric tape so it sits properly. If you need to you can pop the blister again through the tape without having to remove it, though you do need to be careful not to stab yourself… Note that I’m not a medical professional, this is just something I’ve learnt over the years and it’s served me well. A super basic kit I often throw in my pack includes a small swiss army knife, needle or safety pin, a couple of alcohol prep pads, a roll of paper tape, a roll of fabric tape, and a couple of plasters and / or blister patches for fun. I’ll change it up depending on what’s required according to the compulsory gear of different races, but that’s the basics.

There’s a good book that goes into all sorts of foot-related information called Fixing Your Feet, by John Vonhof. It’s a useful reference and covers all sorts from looking after blisters, to lacing techniques for different foot issues.

Enough about feet. Hopefully the weather calms down a little bit so a run outside can still be a possibility!

Kristina Arthur

Race Motivator for the Bivouac Outdoor Wild Auckland Trail Series

The post Gear for Bivouac Outdoor Wild Auckland Trail Series – Socks! appeared first on Bivouac Outdoor Blog.

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We had a fantastic weekend for the second race of the Bivouac Outdoor Wild Auckland trail series at Tawharanui Regional Park. While not my first time to this regional park, it was my first time camping there. While it did require a bit of extra organization it was a great idea, as it gave me a more relaxed start to the morning before the race. I was also booked to stay the night after the race, which turned out to be an even better idea, but that aside.

Pre-race!

I was signed up for the expedition race, which I felt would be inside my comfort zone distance-wise. The race distance (22.4 km) and elevation gain (517 m) published in the days before also reassured me. So far it looked good. I figured aiming for a time of 3:30 would be a good challenge, but regardless I’d finish comfortably within 4 hours.

But then we get to Sunday morning. It was hot! The forecast had said 19°C, but the forecast had been off a bit for the past week. There was a remarkably unhelpful north-wester breeze as well. I filled the hydration bladder as much as I could, slapped on a thick layer of sunscreen, and wandered down to event base. Got distracted by baby fantails chasing each other around/between the competitors, and then we were off, down towards the lagoon and up the first big hill.

Great views!

The first lap went really well. I power walked up the hill to save energy for later, ran along the ridge, and down to the beach. I alternated running and walking between the markers on the beach, trying not to wish too hard that I was lounging on the sand or in the water instead. Pretty sure I’d sweated off most of my sunscreen by this point! Avoid the dotterel, up another steep hill, down the single track and almost back to race base. First lap done.

Mid-race selfie!

I was at the back (second from last at this stage, actually), which didn’t bother me. We picked up the tail-end charlie and headed back towards the hill for the longer second lap. The other runner just behind me got his second wind at this stage and shot off up the hill. I made my way up a little slower than the previous lap, but still ok. The problems really started after the second lap separated from the previous trail we had taken. I’d been drinking water and had electrolyte capsules, but the heat really started to take it’s toll. I lost sight of the runner I was trailing and only (finally) hit the lighthouse track as people I had seen about four or five ahead of me on the first loop left it. I have to admit this was a little disconcerting as, despite everything I’ve experienced in the past with races, I’ve never been dead last before!

Anyway, the heat was affecting me pretty badly by this point I think, but I powered through the lighthouse loop and stopped by the marshal back on the main track to re-tape an ankle hotspot (had taped it before the race, the tape came off). That helped a fair bit as it had been bugging me for a few kms, then it was onwards again. Back along the tracks down to the beach, up that super steep hill from the end of the first loop, down the single track, and finally back to the finish!

It took me a rather long 4 hours 22 minutes, which was an hour longer than I hoped and half an hour longer than I expected. Physically I was suffering from dehydration immediately after the race, but I solved that back at the campsite with food and drink, including salt and other electrolytes; my legs weren’t actually feeling too bad. Mentally I’ve struggled a little with the slow time, but I’m also attempting to be prosaic about it and consider it a learning experience. I’ve done most of my races overseas in colder areas, and most of my training ends up being through winter, so heat isn’t something I’m that great at dealing with. In fact, I’ve only felt like this once before during a race and it passed a lot quicker. Lesson learned – have to train for the heat! Especially because so many of our amazing coastal tracks are super exposed.

I was also reading up about heat training this week (while mentally telling myself off for berating myself for being slow – go figure) and there is a thing called perceived effort, which changes how hard something is based on heat / humidity / dew point. You could do the same run over several weeks, but the perceived effort it takes to complete that run (or walk) will definitely change based on the environmental factors you’re dealing with and how your body is able to cope. Something to keep in mind coming in to summer.

It’s also important to make sure you’ve got electrolytes, not just water, available to you on hot days when training. I did have electrolytes, but for some reason they weren’t sitting as well with me as they usually do. I’ve done things a couple of different ways over the past few years, such as taking electrolyte capsules (as I did on Sunday), used effervescent electrolyte tablets in a water bottle, or mixed a powder into a bottle. It usually depends on the type of race I’m doing, but I’ve always found I prefer to have at least one source of clear water (hydration bladder or bottle) and a separate bottle if the electrolytes need to be mixed with water. I’ve tried all three types and liked them for different things, but I will note the effervescent ones (e.g. Nuun), require a little caution because of the fizzing!

Post-race!

All up I enjoyed the race at Tawharanui and was able to recover relatively quickly from what was a rather hot day. I’m glad I had signed up for the Expedition because, while the Discovery would have been much easier, I prefer to challenge myself where possible, though I think I inadvertently did in more ways than one this weekend. Camping up there was awesome (partly because I didn’t need to drive an hour after the race, partly because of the “recovery” walk in the evening to go looking for kiwi, and partly because hey it was Labour weekend!), and I think I came away with another important lesson learned as I go into a busy summer of trail races.

Kristina Arthur

Race Motivator for the Bivouac Outdoor Wild Auckland Trail Series

The post Race Review Tawharanui – Bivouac Outdoor Wild Auckland Trail Series appeared first on Bivouac Outdoor Blog.

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We are just a couple of days away from race number two of the Bivouac Outdoor Wild Auckland Series. This race will be held at Tawharanui Regional Park, a stunning spot that is surrounded with predator fencing, so there are heaps of native birds. I’ve enjoyed all my previous visits to the park and have had some interesting experiences there when the birds have been particularly enthusiastic – narrowly avoided collisions with a wood pigeon and a kaka, and imitating a saddleback whistle resulting in one coming over to check out what was making all the noise!

So needless to say, I’m looking forward to this race. I’m signed up for the Expedition length course and will be balancing my efforts between pushing myself and taking in the surroundings as we go.

Now seems to be a good time to touch on logistics for races. With races around Auckland it’s just a case of plan what you need for the race itself and directly after (if you want to cleanup / change and have snacks), plug the race location into google maps, make sure you have a full tank of fuel, and off you go. And that’s being a bit expansive. You could throw your trail shoes on and deal with anything else as you go, but I’ve learnt that being a little more organized makes for a more comfortable experience (extremely muddy run in Riverhead Forest a couple of years back springs to mind…).

Some other races require a little more planning. I’ve done several now that were overseas and involved extensive equipment lists. This generally involves me writing several lists to make sure I’m organised and repacking my bags about three times to make sure I have everything.

For the race at Tawharanui it will be somewhere in the middle, as I’m going to be camping up there on a night either side of the race. We get one night (Saturday) free courtesy of Lactic Turkey and Auckland Regional Council (we can select this during registration) and I’ve booked an extra night (Sunday night) through Auckland Regional Council. One night camping is available for each of the races of the series, from memory of the registration process.

So, I need to be a little more prepared for this race. The tent is organised, I need sleeping bag and mat, spare clothes and shoes, toiletries, and food for two days, as well as all the gear I want to take on the race.

The photo I’ve included is some of the gear I’ll be taking with me – I’ve got to finish packing yet, and sort out my food. The easiest option I’ve found for quick camping trips is freeze dried food such as Back Country Cuisine or Outdoor Gourmet Company. I wasn’t sure how freeze-dried food would taste before I first tried it, but it’s actually pretty good. Related to this, Tawharanui doesn’t have cooking facilities so you need to take your own portable gas stove or BBQ if you want anything hot food or drinks.

Lessons learned from the last race that I will be bringing into this race include remembering my blister kit/mini first aid kit this time (whoops), as I got a small blister on my ankle at Tapapakanga, and being more generous with the sunscreen. Given the weather forecast this weekend, definitely don’t stint on the sunscreen. And of course, have fun!

See you Sunday,

Kristina Arthur

Race Motivator for the Bivouac Outdoor Wild Auckland Trail Series

The post Race Logistics and Tawharanui – Bivouac Outdoor Wild Auckland Trail Series appeared first on Bivouac Outdoor Blog.

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